WDTV vs AppleTV Help...

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by derekjd, Nov 29, 2008.

  1. derekjd macrumors member

    Dec 20, 2006
    I'm currently debating between the two devices and definitely would like to hear some 3rd party opinions. I have a MacBook and an iMac so the streaming from iTunes would be nice, but the conversion of everything to h.264 mp4 would be a daunting task. Where the WDTV I could just take the drive over and I think most of my media would play. I like the hack ability of the ATV, but the portability of the WDTV would be nice for when I get my 56" HD and the smaller one goes into the "boom boom" room. The ATV could utilize an old PC with iTunes and a bunch of TB drives as a server, has or can anyone try hooking the WDTV to a usb port on Mac/Win to see if this can see the media on the machine? Well if anyone can offer some opinions and/or insight it would be appreciated.

    BTW: for ppl with WDTV how does the 1080p compare to the 720p? I realize on smaller screens (under 50") you really can tell unless you have a trained eye, on the new set we are looking at (around 56" HD DLP Led backlight) I'm just wondering if the 720p from the ATV won't be good enough.

    Thanks for you help,
    Derek J.D.
  2. schickb macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2008
    I have the ATV and would suggest to make it do everything you want. check out XBMC - its an easy process to add it on and it adds allot of functionality.
  3. TuckBodi macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2007
    I have both and wish I hadn't bought the WDTV. And while it's true the ATV can't play 1080 content and/or you have to hack it to play "other" content, it's just a much more elegant system. In fact, the hacking has now gotten quite easy with ATVUSB Creator http://code.google.com/p/atvusb-creator/ so that has become a non-issue and XBMC running on it is pretty cool. I have a 46" Sammy and 720p stuff looks great to me.

    Pro's of WDTV:
    - small & portable
    - price
    - can play "most" stuff
    - composite hookup

    - interface really, really sucks (navigation, lack of meta info, etc.)
    - cannot play all 1080 stuff
    - I think there's still some issues with sub-titles (no biggy for me)
    - I tagged all my files with MetaX and tried to use hi-rez thumbart where possible and some of it is too big for the WDTV to display
    - no way to split out TV shows from movies in video view
    - had to rename all my ATV m4v's to mp4's so the WDTV could see them (and then back again for the ATV)

    Western Digital came out with a quick update and added/fixed some things but have been silent since. There's still a few bugs and they really need smooth over some of the rough edges. Like I said, I wish now I hadn't bought it.
  4. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    I have the WDTV.

    I also bought the AppleTV 3 times and returned it each time. I was having networking interference and buffering issues at my place. I may buy it again in the future, especially if they update it.

    Anyway, I have a WDTV, but only use it for watching movies. I bought one for my brother, and after demoing it for my friends, 3 of them bought one.
    Many of us already use an Airport Express for wireless iTunes to optical input of home theater system. I never liked the AppleTV interface for my large music library. Way too much scrolling. Bluetooth keyboard would be great (hear me Apple)

    I use list view on the WDTV, so the interface is much more responsive than the AppleTV ever was (at least for me.)

    I haven't found a format that it won't play, yet.

    It's so portable and you don't have to have a computer on, unlike streaming from iTunes.

    I mainly use mine with a 500GB WD passport drive with about 300+ movies on it. It's very easy to take with you anywhere. Also the HDMI and Composite connections mean it can hook up to nearly any tv or HDTV.

    I have had no trouble playing .m4v files (Handbrake AppleTV preset), but it may have problems with FF or RW them. I hope WD keep updating it so that they will support chapters in .m4v

    Anyway, if you have lots of AVIs or MKVs, then you should consider it since it is so cheap. I paid $99 and don't regret it at all. Even though I will probably get a Mac Mini or AppleTV in the future, this was still a great purchase. I'm taking it on family vacation this month, loaded with movies to entertain the young ones.

    Think of it this way, if you hate the interface then use it in the "boom boom room" just to watch movies. It excels at this.

    You can get it from Dell Small Business for $89 which is a no brainer.

    "Dell Small Business has the Western Digital WD TV HD Media Player for a low $89.99 after STACKABLE 10% off Coupon Code: 2J0TX0Z5NW22MB (Exp 3/5). Shipping $4.99. Tax in most.

    search for item # A2161994"
  5. mcdj macrumors G3


    Jul 10, 2007
    I have both. I'm probably in the minority, but I use the ATV strictly for music. I sync all my music to it (no streaming) and navigate the library with the iPhone. For me, the iPhone/Touch compatibility is possibly the ATV's best feature. It's my sole source of music in a fairly high end stereo setup. I couldn't be happier with it.

    For movies and TV, the speed and simplicity of the WDTV is tough to beat for now. It plays almost anything you can throw at it with no conversion time. It's so good, I bought 2...one for the living room and one for the bedroom.

    IMO, the only reason to get an ATV over a WDTV is if you plan on buying all your movies and TV shows via iTunes, or import DVDs directly into iTunes. Then the ATV is all you need. I get most of my movies and TV *elsewhere*.

    I did try to hack the ATV to get similar functionality to that of the WDTV, but hacking the ATV isn't the most intuitive process. Enabling USB mass storage is pretty complicated, for me at least. I couldn't get it to mount a USB drive no matter what I did. And once an update comes out, you're often left to do many or all of the hacks over again.
  6. awr macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2007
    i have both as well - and it really depends on your needs

    for me, the WDTV is great for the bedroom - i just keep a 320GB hooked up to it full of movies - but what others are saying is correct - the interface is awful.

    for downstairs i use the appleTV - much sleeker and cleaner interface, and all of my media is already converted to be apple friendly anyway.

    it really depends on what is more important to you.
  7. danny_w macrumors 601

    Mar 8, 2005
    Austin, TX
    Can the WDTV play video_ts folders or ISOs as if they are physical DVDs, complete with menus? I had heard that you had to pick the VOBs individually; is this still the case? I prefer to keep my DVDs in the original format. I know that XBMC can do this, but the interface stinks and it is difficult to setup correctly.
  8. schickb macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2008
    Just a note to anyone that has the ATV - check out http://xbmc.org/

    the "hack" is as easy as running a program on your mac that writes to a usb drive, then putting that usb drive in the ATV and turning it on.

    You keep ALL of the ATV features and it adds a menu item to give you tons of extra features. Its worth the 15 minutes.

    Just my 2 cents. I would not purchase a ATV without adding xbmc.
  9. Mr Kram macrumors 68020

    Mr Kram

    Oct 1, 2008
    for me, i have other apple devices, so converting my media to h264 is no biggie. i share one itunes library between an imac, macbook and 4 ipods with video capability.

    the issues i have with wdtv is:

    no network capability
    aesthetically clunky
    less than appealing gui
  10. TheZA macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2007
    You either have to pick the VOBs independantly, or have them arranged correctly in a file and have the WDTV set to continue to play all the VOBs in that file. It isn't exactly like an actual DVD.

    As to the wider question, all I have is a WDTV. It is great for what I use it for, which is essentially not burning endless backups to DVD, and have easy asses to a ton of material without getting up from the couch. I don't care (or haven't got in the habit) of buying video from iTunes, I don't own an iPod other than a shuffle, and I don't care to use WDTV for music. I convert video to mp4, add some thumbnail artwork, and organize videos into files. Therefore I don't use the metalibrary of WDTV - everything is organized in files. I find the interface plenty "elegant" for this. This may be blasphamy - but in my thinking, the WDTV just works, unlike what you might have to deal with the Apple TV. No network issues, and you aren't as limited to file format that will play. You aren't as limited to proprietary formats as with an Apple TV. Even if the WDTV breaks, I still have everything on the hard drive.
  11. danny_w macrumors 601

    Mar 8, 2005
    Austin, TX
    Thanks for the reply. What about playing an ISO? Does the WDTV treat it like a DVD?
  12. Obsidian6 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 29, 2006
    Laguna Niguel, CA
    I wound up buying the WDTV mostly because it did 1080p and it handles MKV files.

    My only disappointment was discovering (after I bought it) that MKV files or any file for that matter, with DTS 5.1 audio will have no sound. Which is frustrating for me because I don't care about surround sound as I have no real stereo to handle it.

    My audio source is my old iPod HiFi (who still has one? I LOVE mine) It works great for my purpose and I don't want to invest more money into a system right now.

    I'm trying to devise a way to convert these files (theres not many. Just a a handful of actual HD movies.) Otherwise, everything else I've used is fantastic! I mostly use TVShows to load up all the shows I'd like to watch and then I drop them on the hard drive and boom! I'm all set.

    Plus, people were having beef about the interface, as long as you put stuff in clearly labeled folders, there is ZERO navigation issues. Sure it could be better, but it works just fine in my opinion.
  13. psburley macrumors member

    Nov 19, 2009
    WDTV/Apple TV

    Hi guys I have neither but fancy the WDTV live...does anyone know how easy it is to apply mp3 playlists??....My functionality I am looking for is Playlists for music, my home videos, photos and YOUTUBE not bothered about movies as much...will the WDTV live do the trick?
  14. Scarpad macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    I have both the benefits of the WDTV is that it plays pretty much anything you throw at it without converting. The interface is primitive but its functional. I find the ATV will do what you need it to do if you spend some time with it. 720p MKV's encoded thru Handbrake look fantastic, they just take time to convert. Same with 1080p blu ray rips from my collection, Encoding them down to 720p takes time, but they look great.
  15. psburley macrumors member

    Nov 19, 2009
    converting dvd's for use with wdtv

    having read several forums i am still confused as to the best way to convert my dvd's to play on wdtv live. I have read mKV is the way but then read that you lose sound on some dvd's....all i want is a free pref software that will convert my dvd to a hard drive, fast and without loss of quality that will play sound and video on a wdtv...chapters would be nise if poss. want free s/w if poss as I dont have many dvd's.... your advise guys?
  16. mddharma macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2005
    Hagerstown, Md
    We are using WDTV HD...

    and it has been great for us for the following reasons:

    1 - Using MakeMKV (on the Mac side ) it only takes about 20-30 minutes to rip a DVD to a lossless MKV format from a regular DVD. The WDTV plays them wonderfully. We no longer have to be frustrated in finding good ripping software for the mac and then converting with handbrake (which took forever) to a suitable format for AppleTV. File sizes are large (but no loss in quality on my 42" Plasma) but with the costs of drives now - no big deal. We have 4 Western Digital 1 TB drives. As MakeMKV also does bluray, we will start playing with them in the near future.

    2 - I have not experienced sound problems in the 300-400 movies in series we have on our drives except 2 movies with no sound.

    3 - For our living room we only use it for our movies and TV series, so wouldn't know about the music end. For what we use it for it has been great.

    4 - Scrolling through the movies or series seems simple enough for us - everything is in alphabetical order, and multiple part series and movies we have in a folder. May not be as slick as Apple TV in it's presentation, but it is simple to go to any file or movie, and we are more interested in just watching our movies rather than the slickness of the interface. With that said if they improve on the interface - that would be welcomed.

    5 - We didn't care about streaming. The reason is we have two macbooks in the house and a new airport extreme. We were concerned to where we would be streaming from with the amount of movies we have as the notebooks come and go. We also were concerned about lag time and hiccups with wireless streaming on our large files and our larger files from our blueray rips in the future.

    A couple of pointers to WDTV:

    1- We upgrade our firmware when WD makes them available. With the most recent upgrades we have no bugs or problems to report. WD continues to upgrade the unit with firmware and I believe they will continue to bring in features.

    2- We just bought a Logitech Harmony One remote which works GREAT with the WD and all of our other equipment. Before we brought in the Harmony One we thought we were having troubles with our WD - turns out it was the supplied remote. The Harmony One has made a vast difference in the responsiveness of the WDTV

    What I would like them to upgrade on the unit is the ability to run a powered USB hub without me having to go to a hack. I do believe this will be forthcoming.

    All in all we are thrilled about the unit - especially for the price. It is extremely easy and time saving to convert our DVD library over using MakeMKV, we don't have to keep getting up to change DVDs anymore, and we are saving a ton of space in our living room by not having a 1,000 DVDs in there.:)
  17. KevinC867 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 8, 2007
    Saratoga, CA
    I just use HandBrake to rip/convert DVD's to play with both iTunes and my WDTV Live. I want to save disk space, so I'm willing to let HandBrake spend a couple of hours converting the movie and get it down to about 1.5GB instead of about 7GB uncompressed. I still find the quality to be almost the same as the original DVD.

    Using the "Apple Universal" preset, HandBrake generates both a 2-channel AAC soundtrack and a multi-channel AC3 soundtrack. The WDTV detects and plays the AC3 soundrack.

    One quirk is that HandBrake generates MP4 files with the ".m4v" filenames that iTunes likes. However, WDTV works better if you rename the files to end in ".mp4".

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